Joel Cuello


Prof. Joel Cuello, Ph.D. is Vice Chair of the Association for Vertical Farming (AVF), Professor of Biosystems Engineering and Director of the BioEngineering Laboratory at The University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, U.S.A. With 33 years of experience in research, teaching and outreach on innovations in controlled environment agriculture (CEA) for the sustainable production of food and high-value bioproducts, including for bioregenerative space applications, Prof. Cuello has collaborated widely and globally and has led his BioImagineering Team in designing original innovations ranging from microalgae photobioreactors to growing structures for vertical farms and future extraterrestrial human habitats. 


Prof. Cuello is the Principal Inventor of the patented Accordion Photobioreactor Series as well as of the patent-pending Mobile & Modular Vertical Farm, V-Hive Vertical Green Box, and the Intelligent Aeroponic Microgravity & Earth Nutrient Delivery System (I-AMENDS) for Bioregenerative Space Life Support and Earth Applications, among others. He has published over 70 refereed journal publications and 12 book chapters and has delivered over 300 professional presentations around the world.


Produce Grower magazine named Prof. Cuello in 2018 as one of the Seven Leading People in Produce, “pushing the produce industry forward.” And in 2020, he was cited as one of the “best world-class visionaries” and “paramount thinkers of the 21st century” by NTT Disruption, the exponential-technologies subsidiary of the Tokyo-based global telecommunication company NTT Corporation.

Prof. Cuello conducted his postdoctoral research in the Controlled Ecological Life Support System Division at NASA John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida as a U.S. National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associate. He earned his Ph.D. in Agricultural & Biological Engineering, with a Minor in Chemical Engineering, from The Pennsylvania State University in 1994. He also earned two M.S. degrees (Agricultural & Biological Engineering; Plant Physiology) from The Pennsylvania State University. He obtained his B.S. in Agricultural Engineering (cum laude) from the University of the Philippines at Los Banos. He is a Lifetime Visiting Professor at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China and a Faculty Fellow at De La Salle University and Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. Email: